Art and nature combine in Cork city hotel exhibition

Now in its third year, an exhibition at a city hotel features a spectacular collection of more than 45 individual and figurative sculptures from 19 leading Irish artists, writes Olive Ryan
Art and nature combine in Cork city hotel exhibition

Owners of The Kildare Gallery Ruth Liddle and Ken Folan at Reawakening, the sculpture exhibition in association with the Kildare Gallery at the Montenotte Hotel Cork, running until September 26. Picture:  Darragh Kane

THERE is a garden at the heart of Cork city, developed over the last few years, that is looking great right now and hosting a sculpture exhibition.

What better reason to pay a visit to the Montenotte Hotel on the north side of the river Lee this summer?

The hotel has been developed at the former home of an 18th century merchant prince, a butter merchant that built his residence on the site, named it Lee View House, and took pleasure in watching his goods sail in and out of the harbour.

The garden overlooks the harbour and slopes steeply south, a great aspect for the development of a garden.

The design and layout of the gardens has created terraces with pathways winding their way down to the Victorian garden at the bottom of the site, which is the jewel in the crown and provides the main view from the dining area of the hotel.

Some remains of the original Victorian garden were discovered in 2018 and have since been restored under the supervision of Dominick Cullinane Garden Design.

This sunken garden area provides homes for many of the sculpture pieces purchased and given a permanent home over the last two years. Herbaceous planting is providing autumnal hues which are beginning to shine in this part of the garden as Alstromeria ‘Indian Summer’, heleniums, verbena, solidago and rudbeckias produce oranges, yellows, purples and reds associated with late summer and early autumn.

The gardens will be home to a new sculpture exhibition, called Reawakening — A Celebration of Irish Sculpture — over the next few weeks, providing just a little extra incentive to visit this oasis in the middle of the city.

As part of an annual exhibition and celebration of Irish art and culture, an exclusive collection of contemporary sculptures from a selection of Ireland’s leading artists has arrived at the Victorian Gardens of The Montenotte Hotel for a month-long showcase from August 27 to September 26.

Now in its third year, the exhibition features a spectacular collection of more than 45 individual and figurative sculptures from 19 leading Irish artists. It includes works by award-winning sculptors Donnacha Cahill, Stephanie Hess, Anna Campbell and Mike Duhan — who attended the official outdoor launch event on August 26.

Lord Mayor Cllr Colm Kelleher with Irish Garden Designer Diarmuid Gavin, Ken Folan and Ruth Liddle, Kildare Gallery and Jo and Frankie Whelehan, Montenotte Hotel at Reawakening, the sculpture exhibition in association with the Kildare Gallery at the Montenotte Hotel Cork, continuing until September 26. Picture: Darragh Kane
Lord Mayor Cllr Colm Kelleher with Irish Garden Designer Diarmuid Gavin, Ken Folan and Ruth Liddle, Kildare Gallery and Jo and Frankie Whelehan, Montenotte Hotel at Reawakening, the sculpture exhibition in association with the Kildare Gallery at the Montenotte Hotel Cork, continuing until September 26. Picture: Darragh Kane

Also at the launch was leading gardening designer, Diarmuid Gavin. He said: “As a nation over the past number of months, we have learned to slow down the pace and appreciate life’s simple pleasures. Our gardens have become our sanctuaries and we have been spending much more time enhancing and nurturing this space, relaxing and exploring our creative sides more than we ever have before.

“To me, this sculpture exhibition symbolises this ‘reawakening’ that many of us have experienced and acts as a reminder of the brighter days ahead. Each of these sculptures tells a story that will enhance any outdoor space, acting as a talking point for many years to come — this is ‘Garden Art’ at it’s finest.”

The sculptures are an eclectic mix of imagination, creativity and positivity and are a true celebration of Irish art, crafts and design. Brian Bowler, hotel general manager, said: “As a hotel that has an ongoing connection to the arts, this exhibition is very special for us and something we look forward to every year.

“Our Victorian Gardens have been transformed into an enchanting sculpture garden that is a wonder for the eye and a feast for the soul! There is nothing quite like art in this form to intrigue and excite the imagination… so hats off to all of the artists for creating such a spectacular juxtaposition of truly wonderful art that works together beautifully.

“We would like to thank each artist and The Kildare Gallery for bringing this striking showcase to life and hope our visitors enjoy the chance to view some of the best sculptures in the country over the next few weeks.”

The Kildare Gallery was established six years ago by Ruth Liddle and Ken Folan. Ruth is an industry specialist with more than 20 years of experience in Irish art, well known for ‘The Garden of Sculptures’ at Bloom Festival. Ken is recognised for the large scale outdoor exhibition ‘Vanishing Art’ on the grounds of Carton House, Co. Kildare.

At the launch, Ruth said: “We are so delighted to be back in Cork showcasing contemporary designs from leading sculptors . The elegant Victorian sunken garden is a beautiful backdrop to this unique collection of vibrant artwork by our family of contemporary artists.

“The collection is one of imagination and positivity and we are so appreciative that The Montenotte Hotel also has these attributes.”

The exhibition is open daily from 10am at The Montenotte Hotel. Visitors are asked to register at the hotel reception to be directed to it.

More information at www.TheMontenotteHotel.com. For further information on the collections, the artists and for sales enquiries, email The Kildare Gallery on info@thekildaregallery.ie or visit www.TheKildareGallery.ie.

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